Senate clears judicial nominee on 91-2 vote

The Senate voted 91-2 Monday to confirm the nomination of Jeff Meyer to be U.S. district judge for Connecticut.

Republicans forced a cloture vote and the use of all of the debate time to protest Democrats’ use of the “nuclear option” last year.

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Democrats unilaterally changed Senate filibuster rules so that a simple-majority can advance most judicial and executive branch nominees. Prior to the rule change, 60 votes were needed.

Republicans have argued that the use of the nuclear option has negatively changed the Senate forever by limiting the minority party’s rights. But Democrats argued it was necessary to overcome Republican obstruction of qualified nominees.

"[Republicans] are deliberately obstructing and placing roadblocks so that each and every confirmation takes as long as humanly possible," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said. "Republicans may see this as retribution for the rules change that occurred last year, but their steadfast obstruction only hurts the American people."

Earlier Monday, the Senate voted 55-37 to end debate on Meyer’s nomination.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said Meyer has “extraordinary” character and qualifications to serve as a district judge.

“He is truly a lawyer’s lawyer,” Blumenthal said ahead of the vote. “And he will be a judge’s judge. … I know he has the human quality of compassion and insight that is really necessary to make judgments of credibility.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has set up confirmation votes on three other judicial nominees for later this week.

Before the Senate adjourned Monday evening, it also voted 58-34 to end debate on the nomination of James Moody, Jr., to be a U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas. He is expected to be confirmed Tuesday.

Once work is complete on the nominations, the Senate will begin considering an omnibus veterans bill.

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